Many students struggle with adequate social skills in school, which has the potential to affect the child in an adverse way. The first step in helping a child who struggles with social skills is to identify his/her social skills deficits. Understanding what a child can and can not do is crucial in order to develop appropriate interventions to help them. Children may experience difficulty performing certain social skills due to their lack of knowledge or their lack of strength in consistently performing a social skill (ie.. standing up to a bully at school.)
Negative consequences of poor social skills can cause a child to show signs of depression, anger, or anxiety, can cause them to perform poorly at school, has the ability to cause their peers to reject them, and lastly can cause a child to experience significant difficulty in their interpersonal relationships with parents, teachers, and their peers.
There are four main areas of social skills for children to learn in order to then establish interventions that are appropriate. 1.) Conflict resolution skills or dealing with teasing, bullying, being excluded from activities 2.) problem-solving skills or asking others for help or decision making 3.) Interpersonal skills or sharing, waiting your turn, or joining in activities at school 4.) survival skills or listening, follow directions, or ignoring distractions in class. Interventions that address social skills with children are comprised of teaching the child emotional/behavioral concepts in order for them to learn NEW behaviors. Social skills should emphasize teaching new social skills rather than punishing the child for behaviors when they are negative.
Social skills training of a child should include:
Providing positive strategies primarily and using punitive strategies only when positive strategies to change social skills are unsuccessful
Enhance social skills by increasing the frequency of appropriate behaviors when they are displayed
Emphasize appropriate behaviors by modeling, coaching, and role-playing appropriate social skills
Provide opportunities with their peers in order for the child to be able to practice appropriate social skills
Schools should help children with social skills by:
Providing an individual approach to the child that tailors to their social strengths and deficits
Address the child’s individual abilities/disabilities
Include parents or caregivers in order to reinforce the skills taught at school in order to promote consistency of behaviors across all of the child’s settings or environments
The end result for children that have developed good social skills is a more positive and safe school environment, better ego strength and coping skills for the child for future interactions in life, and better conflict resolution skills in all of their personal relationships, and a higher frustration tolerance.